I sure wish more people would see this and erase the tepid impression so many other films of Shakespeare's work have left on them. This is certainly one of the best of all those put on film. Taming of the Shrew is a funny work but hard to perform. Without the exactly correct actor, it loses half it's punch as it relies on the facial expressions that will translate the words into feeling. Hard to do from a centuries old work that has very little in the way of director's notes!
This masterpiece has the three main elements to greatness locked up: Franco Zeffirelli as the director and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as the two main characters. Really, given the visual talent of Zeffirelli and the magnetic passion between Taylor and Burton, everything else is bound to fall into place.
Like many others, I found the performances of some of the secondary characters not to my exact liking but I think, in retrospect, that it was simply that they were overwhelmed by the talents of the main characters and specifically directed in a way that would create this feeling in the audience. We should feel annoyed by some of those characters and adding a certain tone of voice helps to ensure the audience feels that way. So, I'm not taking anything from the film for that.
Taylor as Kate the Shrew and Burton as the wild and unsavory Petruchio are perfect. Burton often has that slightly dirty look to him and his booze roughened voice just adds sauce to the mix. Taylor is at her most beautiful in this movie; no longer so young she is lushly filled out, has character in her face and confidence in her work. The sexual tension between this legendary couple is like over-cooked dynamite, ready to blow in this movie and it lends the final touch to their explosive scenes. You just have to see it to truly appreciate it.
The costuming in this film is a notch above superlative with Taylor positively sewn into her bodices and yet still athletic as she races across a roof from her sarcastically effusive husband-to-be. Burton is a slovenly, yet manly and handsome, mess in his well designed dags and pouffy sleeves. The musical score is also exceptional so it is just as much a feast for the ears as the eyes.
You don't have to be a fan of Shakespeare to enjoy this movie. You don't have to be a fan of older "classic" movies either. You just have to enjoy a good movie experience overall to really love this film. It's an excellent way to introduce Shakespeare to those who might shy away from it also.